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Need advice to improve my tone

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Sifter, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. Sifter


    Apr 3, 2006

    I recently purchased a ME-50B Bass Multiple Effects Unit which I am hoping to use for practice and live playing in tandem with my Ibanez Soundgear Bass and Ashdown MAG C210T-300 Combo.

    Yesterday, I took the pedal for a spin in the practice room with guitarist and drummer. All was well until the guitarist started playing and my sound just got lost in the mix.

    To an extent, this was a problem before buying the effects unit and I am starting to wonder whether my bass is capable of only 2 sounds:

    1: Heavy and slightly distorted
    2: Thin and sounds like a guitar

    I have tried playing with compression, distortion, Amp settings, Bass Switches but cannot find a sound I am happy with and that glues the drums to the guitar in the way I am thinking and hearing (most) other bass players doing.

    FYI - We are a covers band playing mainly Rock Music.

    We have a gig this weekend and I am probably going to go straight from the bass to the amp without effects so I can get an 'OK' sound.

    I was hoping some more seasoned players could give me some tips and tricks to try and help me improve my tone.
    Clearly, I would be very keen to hear from anyone who owns the same equipment as me.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    My 2 cents:

    Try lots of mids, especially low-mids. It'll help you cut through as well as give you some definition in your sound.

    Oh, and get the guitarist to lower his bass knob, if you can :D
  3. uly_


    Jul 4, 2005
    I don't consider myself as a 'seasoned player' but I'm playing ashdown aswell :) Not a combo though.

    Anyway, which frequensies have you boosted and which have you cut?

    As you probably already know theres a whole world difference from what solo-sound you like to what works with your band.

    I.e. I was playing w. fingers before and a real deep overdrive sound, but combined with 2 heavy distorted guitars I was being drowned in the mix. So I re-did my rig, grabbed a pick and today I'm cutting right through the mix.. no matter how much distortion the guitars has, you can still clearly hear my tone.

    Sooooo.. heres what I did:

    • Boosted low mids (and I mean boosted a LOT!)
    • Boosted high mids
    • Boosted treble (just a little to get some bite)
    • Everything else set to flat
    • A good amount of compression
    • A bit of overdrive from EBS MultiDrive for some harshness and edge.
    • A 0.88 mm pick
    • A Fender Passive Jazz

    Just for some inspiration :)
  4. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    As mentioned above, the mids are your friends. You need to find the area between the guitars and the drums where your bass can be heard. Trying to cut through by playing louder in frequencies that are already occupied by other instruments doesn't work. You might very well find that you don't like your tone when playing alone (it may sound thin and overly middy), but in the mix with the other instuments it sounds fine. Your answer is going to be in the EQ rather than in more/different effects.
  5. Sifter


    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks everyone. That is very helpful and I will give the suggestions a go at soundcheck and see what happens :)

    All the best.
  6. lug


    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx

    Agreed. The number one lesson to learn is that what sounds good stand-alone doesn't always cut it in the mix. I've heard atrocious stand alone sounds that work great in a mix, depending on what else is going on in the sonic landscape.
  7. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Don't forget to get an opinion from the audience POV as well. You may seem lost in the mix onstage but perfectly audible to the crowd.
  8. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process...

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    All of these are great... but I think you may have hit it on the head, as well. all the boost in the world won't help you if your Bass isn't already producing enough at the frequencies you are having trouble with.

    I had a similar problem with my Ibanez SOundgear, and eventually replaced the pups and added a 2-band active EQ.

    For the short answer, boosting your mids, adding some chorus for a thicker sound, turning your guitar player's bass setting down, etc. those will work. if the tone is not to your liking, then you may want to look at an upgrade in your actual bass. If it does work? great!!

    Syciprider hit on the other big thing. If your amp is close to you, you're actually going to hear LESS than what the audience hears, due to teh nature of Bass sound waves. I run into this problem on a weekly basis, where I can barely hear myself next to my amp, yet everyone tells me to turn down 'cause the rest of the band can only hear me over anyone else. I'm running an 8" Peavy Microbass for a monitor and using a SansAmp as a DI...
  9. You just said "compression" without specifying too much. There's a lot of ways to set up a compressor, some will do you no good. There's loads of threads here about compression, I would suggest you get a bit more in-depth, learn how to tweak your compressor on the fly, then do some field testing during your next rehearsal.

    Then, keep in mind that EQ is primarily there to adjust for different playing environments - secondarily it helps you get "your" tone. The main problem I see is that people CUT too much; The "smiley face EQ curve" type of sound does wonders if you want a sound that lacks definition!

    Start with EVERYTHING flat, bass EQ flat, pedals bypassed, amp EQ flat - everything! Your combo has great midrange controls, find a happy medium that's not to honky, but not too scooped out either. Mids add punch and attack as well as occupying a part of the spectrum that not many instruments get to very often.

    Plus, what others have said about acoustics is very important. Get a really long lead or a wireless and walk to the back of the room, you'll be surprised how different you sound. Experiment with getting your amp off the floor, stick in up on a crate or a sturdy chair, lean it back so it projects towards your ears while on stage.

    If you're using a PA that's capable, let it handle all the bowel shaking frequencies and let your amp create some definition for you on stage.
  10. Sifter


    Apr 3, 2006
    Just wanted to say a quick thankyou to everyone above who provided some input on how to improve my tone.
    We gigged on Saturday night and I:

    Boosted low mids
    Boosted high mids
    Boosted treble (just a little to get some bite)
    Everything else set to flat

    as specifically recommended by Uly and others and the results were amazing. Really great tone that cut through and gave me and the band confidence in our sound thus making us play better.

    Thanks a bundle!
  11. Nyarlathotep

    Nyarlathotep Banned

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Coast of Canada
    You are very welcome :D

    Keep on rockin' :bassist:
  12. uly_


    Jul 4, 2005
    Glad I could help ya out :) keep on rockin'!
  13. johnvice


    Sep 7, 2004
    As an experiment while your band is practicing, try turning the mid-range LEVEL knob on your ME-50b to full. Then, try adjusting the mid-range level knob through its entire range to find out where you get the most "cut through"

    I like a boost in the 300-400 hz range and/or the 800hz range. You can only do one with the ME-50 mid, but this is just an experiment.

    I use a graphic and parametric EQ to optimize my tone. Before your rush out and buy one, a little goes a long way in bass EQing.

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